I’ll be the first to admit that this recipe is the result of a failed trip to Dunkin Donuts. They used to sell a smoked salmon cream cheese that was the only reason I would drive by for breakfast – smoked salmon on a sesame bagel. I can still taste it. Unfortunately, Dunkin corporate axed the spread from their lineup.
Lucky for me, I got a glimpse of the ingredients before the flavor was discontinued. They included, in a nutshell, cream cheese, cream and smoked salmon. Well I can do that!
I incorporated the spread into one of my favorite brunch platters. It comes together quickly and features smoked wild sockeye slices, as well as the spread and toppings.
There are a few styles of smoked salmon, but they are not to be confused with lox, which is not smoked at all.
• Lox comes from the Yiddish word for salmon, laks. It is traditionally made from salmon belly and brined (but not smoked or cooked). Gravlax or gravad lax is the Scandinavian preparation of salmon that includes spices, herbs and sugars but no smoking.
• Cold-smoked salmon (exposed to smoke in an 80-degree environment, so the salmon isn’t cooked during the process) includes Nova-style, which is cold-smoked after it’s brined. It was so named because Nova Scotia once supplied much of the Northeast with prepared salmon; Scotch or Scottish-style salmon is dry-brined with spices, sugars and other seasonings, which are rinsed off before cold-smoking; Nordic-style is typically salt cured, rinsed and cold-smoked.
• Hot-smoked salmon is cooked through and has a distinct smoky flavor, more like bacon or ham, because it is smoked with heat. This is how smoked bluefish, smoked mussels or smoked scallops are prepared.
I prefer hot- or cold-smoked salmon on my breakfast bagel. My favorite, of course, is my own version of smoked salmon cream cheese.
Serves 12, as a platter
8 ounces cream cheese (get the good stuff)
1/4 -1/3 cup half and half (depending on how soft you want the spread to be)
2 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the cream and blend. Add 1.5 ounces of smoked salmon and blend until combined. Fold in the remaining half ounce if you like a few lumps of salmon meat in your spread.
Pack the spread neatly into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Salmon Brunch Platter
1/3 cup capers
1/4 cup each fresh dill and chives, chopped
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 medium shallot
1 medium pickling cucumber, scrubbed clean
1/2 cup smoked mussels
6 ounces smoked salmon slices
Horseradish whipped cream (preparation to follow)
8 ounces plain cream cheese
12 fresh bagels
I use a mandolin to slice my cucumbers, onions and shallots very thin. I soak the onions and shallots in water, covered, for 2 hours or overnight. Drain before serving.
Just before serving, whip 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and add 1/4 cup prepared horseradish. Dish into a bowl and serve with a knife or spoon.